Lemon Balm and it's Uses
Lemon balm is a perennial herb. The herb is very easy to grow from seeds and to establish in a garden. The scientific name of lemon balm is Melissa officinalis. The herb grows from 70-150 cm in height.
For culinary purposes it is commonly used as a tea or to flavour dishes, especially cooking with meats or in soups and stews.
When the leaves are bruised or rubbed they produce a very aromatic and nice lemon scent. When the plant blooms it will produce many white flowers. Pollinators love these flowers as they are full of nectar. Attracting pollinators is important for the health of every garden. Nectar will attract predator insects that will prey on pests in your garden.
Lemon Balm Uses
Lemon balm is an amazing herb. There are many other uses for lemon balm beyond it's culinary uses.
Medicinally it will help calm your nerves and relief stress, treats insomnia and anxiety.
As a herbal tea lemon balm provides many health benefits. When it is made into a salve or oil it can be used to apply to minor abrasions and rashes. The ointments are effective in treating cold sores and herpes.
As an aromatic it is used to freshen up rooms and to uplift the mood. It's used in toothpastes to provide a cooling effect.
The essential oils can also be used as an insect repellent, especially for mosquitoes.
Lemon Balm Tea
Making Lemon balm tea is a great way to receive it's health benefits.
The tea acts as a mild sedative and calms the central nervous system. This helps to relieve stress and anxiety or even depression. Some people might find it helps with panic attacks as well. Because it helps us to have a deeper and more restful sleep, that in itself can help us to overcome many health issues.
To make lemon balm tea add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm leaves to your cup (twice the amount for fresh leaves). Fresh leaves are preferable over the dried, but both are fine. Bring some water to boil and remove from heat. Let the water cool for 5 seconds or so and then add the hot water to your cup of lemon balm. Let the tea steep from 5 to 15 minutes.
Lemon Balm Benefits
The medicinal benefits of lemon balm can be derived from applying the herb topically, aromatherapy use, and internally in the form of tea, adding the herb to our food, or supplements.
Here is a short list of the health benefits of lemon balm:
- A rich source of antioxidants
- Can be used to treat cold sores, herpes, and other skin conditions
- May help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression
- Helps promote restful sleep and to reduce insomnia
- Effective mosquito repellent
It can also help to prevent colds and the flu. It's nice to have the tea with meals as it will aid in digestion.
Growing Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is very easy to start from seeds. It's a perennial so it will come back each year, and it requires very little maintenance.
Canadians can click here to purchase lemon balm seeds. You can also find more information there about growing lemon balm and it's uses.
The plants can be grown in full sun to partial shade. They are hardy in zones 5-9. They prefer moist, fertile, and well-draining soil. It likes soil with a pH of 6.9. To start lemon balm from seeds, surface sow the seeds onto a pre-watered compost and sphagnum peat moss 50/50 mixture. If started outside lightly cover the seeds with soil. Keep the seeds moist. The soil shouldn't be soggy. Don't let the soil dry out completely. Within a couple weeks the seeds should sprout.